According to leaks on Chinese social media, we now know when certain events will take place for China’s newest lunar lander that recently launched on November 23rd. China is apparently attempting to land their booster as early as December 1.
“Chang’e 5” is China’s newest lunar lander with the goal to return a sample of the Moon’s surface back to Earth for the first time since the Soviet Union returned a sample in 1976. Due to no way to heat the instruments onboard, the lander only has the expected lifespan of one lunar day. Day is about to begin for where it will be landing, which is why it is expected to begin its landing procedure on Tuesday morning (EST).
The current rundown of events from the leaked posts are as follows (all times UTC):
- Start of lander power descent: December 1st at 14:58
- Landing on lunar surface: December 1st at 15:13
- Beginning of drilling: December 1st at 17:15
- End of drilling: December 1st at 19:45
- Beginning of sample scooping: December 1st at 21:14
- Ending of sample scooping: December 2nd at 19:35
- Launch and ascent stage: December 3rd at 15:10
This looks to be the “best cases scenario” for time of events and doesn’t take into account possible delays. China will have about two weeks to finish the sample selection and return it to the orbiter; the landing site will be in night time for another two weeks. If they are not able to retrieve the sample before lunar night, there is a high chance the mission will be a failure. China is one of a small group of countries to have successfully landed on the Moon, showing the difficulty at hand that will arise tomorrow during landing procedures.